1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
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Day One

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by David85, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. David85

    David85 Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone, fist post. Starting the Educational Program today, which suggests a short post about my story and where I'm at in treatment. I don't know about short, but here goes:

    I’ve had low back pain just over a year. About a week and a half ago began to seriously consider TMS the cause of my pain. I’ve seen multiple doctors and had X-rays and an MRI, so I can say that I've ruled out any serious condition. I have read Healing Back Pain and am now about halfway through The Divided Mind, and have also been perusing the forums as well.

    So now, I thought I’d share some of my initial doubts and concerns.

    1.My pain has gotten worse since my “self-diagnosis”. I understand the concepts of TMS, and was initially very committed to embracing the principles behind it (I stopped using lumbar supports and cancelled physical therapy, both big steps for me). However, I have not felt at any time since then that my pain has improved, and would even say it’s gotten worse, which to be honest has stirred up fears that am now hurting my back even further. Without a doctor or other professional to assure me that this is all part of the process, it's hard to remain committed.
    2. I also can't stop visualizing and even feeling my back as curved lately. I had an x-ray showing mild scoliosis, and despite the insistence of Dr. Sarno on the lack of correlation with structural problems, I seem to be thinking about this even more now, maybe because I'm unable to accept that if I follow the TMS treatment, I'll never get that curve "fixed".
    3.With physical treatments, I think I tend to have more patience, feeling like the structure of my back will get better a little at a time. Whereas with TMS, if knowledge is the cure, I tend to obsess about consuming as much knowledge as possible in order to obtain a faster cure. Because I want to be pain free (obviously), I find myself constantly thinking about the next time I can read another chapter in the book. I know patience is required here as well, but when I have bad days, and can’t rely on a physical treatments for hope or relief (even temporary), I don’t know what to do for relief and I struggle. I'm realizing I so badly wanted to be one of the "book cures" or have some major discovery about my past come up after talking to my therapist and parents. As someone who considers himself rather self-aware, I've been wondering what sort of emotions I could have possibly repressed. I also have a general question about the treatment (which I think I may be gaining some insight into, but thought I'd run by everyone anyway): what direction should our therapy take? If repressed emotions are part of our subconscious and can't be known, what exactly are we looking for?
    4. Once I abandoned the idea of physical treatments, I started to feel a bit lonely in my struggle with the whole thing (and this despite talking to my girlfriend, family, and therapist about the treatment). I need someone knowledgeable about TMS to bounce ideas and questions off of- I guess that's where the forum comes in.
    5.Often while sitting I experience an aching pain across my low back.This does go away at times and I believe is very related to stress and how much I think/worry about it. However, I also have a sharper, more specific pain that is located just to the left of my spine in the lumbar region. This pain I really notice if I bend forward or lean back too much. So this part of it seems much more mechanical to me, and harder to accept as TMS. So, while it's easy to accept that some of pain is TMS, it's much harder for me to believe that all of the pain is TMS.

    Whew, that took awhile. Thanks if you read through it all and I appreciate any feedback!
  2. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Hi David,
    I'll write more later but I just wanted to say Welcome! My pain didn't get worse when reading the books, but it did shift to other places and my anxiety amped up for a while. It was part of the healing process.
    Take care,
  3. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Hi David:

    Welcome to the forum. Yeah. We all wanted to be part of the group who had the book cure. There are a few, and then there are a few others who read the book and felt the same as when they started reading. Perhaps a shift, but the still same.

    I'd suggest you get a big notebook and start to journal. The SP here on the wiki will ask you to do some probing into your past, your present, and your personality traits. Here you'll find the things that make you sad, angry, embarrassed, really angry, and/or anxious. Anxiety kind of goes hand in hand with TMS. I didn't see anywhere that you spoke of anxiety. Is this an issue for you? Anxiety issues can go way back into our childhoods.

    Again that big notebook.

    If you're going to try and "Race for the Cure", then you might want to slow down and walk. Some people have gotten better in a matter of weeks, others many months. Since we all come from different backgrounds and experiences, it's hard to tell. But I can tell you the more you write, the more you reflect, the more you get to the root cause of you pain, the sooner you'll be feeling better.

    You might even see improvement with the SP. It helped me a great deal when I started my journey 4 months ago. I have some pretty good moments now and my pain has moved into my shoulder. I want it to run right out of my fingertips!

    My suggestion would be to 1) check out that new pain you described in the "lumbar region" of your back. Please make sure it's nothing serious. We stress here that yes, you can "see yourself" or "self diagnose" as you phrased it in Dr. Sarno's books. That is really a good sign because it means you're being honest with yourself and you're willing to do what it takes. But we also stress that you should have your doctor at least identify the new pain. It could help you to understand the pain is on the move. And this will help a lot.

    Again, welcome and enjoy this journey. It's not always easy and it's sometimes not really fast - but we do arrive. When it's our time, we arrive.

  4. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome to the Wiki,

    First, having our symptoms increase when starting out is actually pretty common with TMS. Our bodies are conditioned to create pain to prevent us from addressing emotional issues. When we decide to address these issues our symptoms try to put up a sort of last ditch effort to keep us focusing on our symptoms instead of our emotions. If your symptoms increase while you start out with this approach then it is a good sign that you do have TMS. Keep in mind that it is very important to have a physician rule out serious medical conditions. I would recommend reading the article Breaking the Pain Cycle. It is by TMS practitioner Alan Gordon and is one of my favorite articles on TMS.

    Accepting the TMS diagnosis is a huge part of recovering, because doing so is the start of overcoming our fear of our symptoms. I had chronic pain for a long time and it was hard for me to accept that my pain was due to my emotions. The thing that made me accept the diagnosis was simply reading a bunch of success stories of other people who recovered. I recommend exploring the wiki's success stories section.

    Part of the TMS personality is that we tend to be perfectionist. It is important for us to not bring over this trait into our recovery. Of course we all want to recover just by reading a book, but we also need to understand that everyone is different and we need to go down our own journey. Recovery takes different time for different people. Obsessing over our treatment can easily lead to obsessing over our symptoms which only exacerbates them. If you find yourself going overboard then take a break for a day or two and then come back to it.

    Lastly, recovering from TMS really involves understanding the emotions we have and accepting these emotions. Journaling can really help out with this, as can posting in this forum. Reading other people's posts helped me understand that I was not the only person who felt the way I did. The best part of TMS is that it gives us the power and ability to heal ourselves. We have the tools to get better and I hope that the wiki's program will help guide you in your recovery. If you have any questions at all feel free to ask, and remember you are in the right place.


  5. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    I hear you--my physical therapist gave me some pretty bad advice but she was a supportive person and I felt a little better from just seeing her a few times a week. I sometimes wonder if that connection was part of why I did have some improvement from PT.

    It sounds like you have a lot of support in your life, so that's good. As others mentioned, it's good to check in with a doctor to rule out any serious illnesses.

    The forum & wiki helped me a lot too.

    Take care,
  6. David85

    David85 Peer Supporter


    Wanted to thank you all for your input and making me feel welcome. I should first mention that I've been examined by a primary doctor, orthopedist, and two NPs, and have ruled out a serious condition. The sharper pain has been with me for about a year as well, but during the good stretches was more of a minor annoyance.

    Yes! Something that does go back to my childhood, mostly in social situations. I've addressed it over the years, but I think it deserves revisiting in my journaling.

    Yep, I think that's what's been happening.

    I've tried to take a step back and spend just a small chunk of time researching TMS each day. I must say that it's been very tough, though, due to how much pain I've been feeling. I read the article Breaking the Pain Cycle and plan to continue to re-read it. I think what I've also struggled with is not knowing where to go for relief. Journaling, reminding myself of the way TMS works, and other mental strategies have not helped as of yet, and I no longer have the PT or other physical exercises to fall back on. Reading success stories does seem to provide moments of relief and is a further reminder of how much this is all rooted in my mind. But I've also found that sometimes my brain has a way of picking out the negative parts of success stories (for example thinking, "what if I get that symptom too?" or "well he/she still has relapses, maybe the treatment doesn't work"), so I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to not letting myself entertain those thoughts. I guess my question would be, what have been your strategies for temporary or day-to-day relief? From what I gathered in the forums some may still use meds or acupuncture as a means for coping short-term, as long they are not thinking about these treatments as the long term answer, or as being used to fix something structurally.

    A big question for me as I've become more informed is knowing what way to approach the pain. As I read on another forum, it's a balance between telling your subconscious that you know it's tricking you, and accepting that it may be using the pain for it's own good reason. So, I've wavered- sometimes I'll tell my subconscious to stop the pain because I know what it's doing, but other times I wonder if I just need to accept that the pain isn't going to go away until I've sufficiently explored what it might be a distraction from.

    I also want to share that I've felt very alone at times- I think I like to know that my care is in the hands of a professional, someone I can turn to who will not only listen, but be able to give advice I know I can trust. I'll see how my next few sessions go and probably talk to him about this very thing, but I'm considering looking for a therapist trained in psychoanalysis, as after reading up on the different styles, I realized my current one takes a more cognitive-based approach.

    Finally, I should say that while reading The Divided Mind this past week, there were a few times that I was more convinced than ever in the validity of TMS. The fact that my pain has taken on different "forms" within my back recently has reinforced this as well. When these things click, or I read about how someone's life was changed completely, I know that I have to stick with it and that it'll all be worth it. Thanks again for reading and the support.
  7. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Hi David,

    I think that's just part of the whole TMS mindset...you might not get any new symptoms or relapses anyway, and even if you do (I did get some new symptoms) they will probably move quickly because you know what's going on now.

    Yes, I feel that way too sometimes. You're not alone. I do think therapy would be a good idea. I'm looking to get back into that myself.

    Hang in there.

    :) Veronica

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